For years I struggled to be the Christian woman I thought I was supposed to be. I worked, served, and tried with all my might to live up to the standard set by godlier women around me. I attended retreats, read books, and joined Bible studies all designed to help me understand what it means to be a woman of God.

Somehow, the harder I tried, the more burdened I became.

I began to suffocate under the weight of people’s expectations and ideas—ideas that focused more on what I should or shouldn’t do than on the condition of my heart. It was a weight that left me utterly defeated, a broken mess of a Christian woman.

Eventually, the truth of God’s Word began to break through the chorus of well-meaning but misguided ideas. I started to understand that we weren’t created to live lives of comparison and shame, or to run ourselves ragged trying to live up to impossible standards. God’s plan for us is more amazing, more exciting, and more freeing than I’d ever dreamed.

God created to live as his image bearers. Understanding this truth in new ways drastically changed my life.

Created with a Purpose

In Genesis 1 the Lord says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (v. 26). God suddenly stops the unfolding creation account, invites us in, and tells us what he’s about to do: create mankind. Not only that, he tells us why. He’s going to place his image on the earth, and he’s going to do it in the form of men and women (Gen. 1:27). Our purpose as children of God, as women, is to bear his image.

Images are reflections, and that’s what we were crafted to be—reflections of God here on earth. We were created to be signposts pointing others to him, mirrors displaying his character to the world. When people see us, they see aspects of God. How amazing! Your purpose, then, isn’t something you earn or work for; it’s something you already are.

Created with a Plan

Of course, we must learn how to properly live out that purpose. Thankfully, God gives us a plan:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Gen. 1:28)

Despite what we often hear about this passage, it’s not just a call to make babies and start farms. It’s not chiefly about doing more for God. Instead, this is a beautiful call to imitate the creative work God himself accomplished in creation. It’s about being who he created you to be. Filling the earth is about filling the empty spaces with beauty and using your gifts and talents to show the world the creative nature of its God. Having dominion is about bringing order—ordered hearts, ordered relationships, ordered businesses, ordered homes—out of chaos. We must know him, be with him, and rest in him if we are going to reflect him to the world.

God isn’t standing with a checklist waiting to see if you qualify as a proper woman of God or if you’re good enough to bear his image. He isn’t interested in the number of committees you’re on or the quantity of ministries you serve. He doesn’t insist that you throw Pinterest-worthy prayer meetings and wear designer labels on Sunday morning. And being a woman of God doesn’t depend on your marital status or the condition of your womb. He wants you to draw near to him and, by doing so, reflect him to the world. Being a woman of God isn’t mainly about doing more, but about being with him.

Created with a Promise

As the creation story unfolds, sin breaks into the picture, and our ability to be perfect image bearers is shattered. Our hearts are wounded, the reflection tarnished, our very purpose marred. But God doesn’t leave it that way. Through Jesus, we have a promise. The God who loved you, chose you, created you, and redeemed you is restoring his image in you (Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24). This is the heart of sanctification: God’s promise to make all things new, starting with us.

If you’ve ever felt alone, if you’ve ever struggled to understand what it means to be a woman of God, if you’ve questioned his plan for you, take heart. Being an image-bearer is your highest calling. It’s the heart of who you are. And it brings freedom and a promise. Freedom from mere “doing,” and a promise to be made new.

The Christian life is not a quest for one more thing to do. It’s a daily pursuit of Jesus. Draw near to God, and you will increasingly image the Son he loves.